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Guest Post: Some Assembly Required by Inez Kelley

I asked Inez Kelly if she would be interested in doing a post for Dear Author on her research into the use of prosthetics.  She graciously responded to my request.


I don’t remember reading my first romance. I do, however, remember when I read my first romance that portrayed something other than the perfect hero. Joan Hohl wrote a loosely connected string of books, five of which are still on my keeper shelf today. My favorite, ONE TOUGH HOMBRE, featured Josh Barnet, a man with a prosthetic arm.

Despite this missing limb, he was sexy and tough, alpha and capable. The portrayal wasn’t pitying, it was enlightening. I suppose a seed of interest was planted. Since then, I’ve been drawn to books featuring a hero or heroine with a prosthesis.

One of my favorite historical romances is BOND OF BLOOD by Roberta Gellis. The hero, Cain, Lord Radnor, is the survivor of a set of twins and has a clubbed foot. Although he is powerful and masculine, he has to wear a specially designed “shoe” to walk. This birth defect, and the scorn of his father at such an imperfection, shaped his perception of himself throughout his life.

Perhaps in some way that prepared me for my own son. A premature twin, he was diagnosed with bilateral clubbed feet in utero. At the age of five hours and at less than three pounds, he was fitted for his first leg braces. They were made of tape and stiffened gauze because his skin was so delicate.

For over seven years, we dealt with daily apparatuses (such as braces, splints and casts), therapies and prejudices. We met with several instances of pity and condescension from others. We wanted him to be like Josh Barnet and Cain, Lord Radnor- capable despite his limitations. The word ‘cripple’ never was uttered in our home. Our attitude paid off and he never said “I can’t”. At age 8, he had corrective surgery and spent several weeks immobile and then in a wheelchair. Today, he plays baseball and climbs trees, rides a bike and kicks a ball.

When a romance character came to my mind who had a physical loss, I wasn’t daunted at all. But I was determined to learn all I could to get the nuances of the character correct, the mindset, the emotions toward his/her body, etc. I don’t find the research distasteful or morbid. To me, it’s a testament to the human spirit of never giving up.

I commented on an earlier article Jane posted dealing with a prosthetic arm, sharing some of the things I learned. She asked me if I’d be interested in writing an article discussing the history of prosthetics. So here I am again. (I could spend hours just talking about dental, facial and optical prosthetics. But I won’t.)

Prosthetics have been around nearly as long as man has. Human bodies are not infallible. They succumb to injury and disease. Disfigurement oftentimes damages the psyche more than the body but our spirit demands we continue living. Prosthetics are a way to regain control and reclaim what was lost.

Ancient Hebrew texts speak of women with golden and glass eyes. They were long thought to have been poetic license, but perhaps they were more fact than fantasy. A report published in 2006 by the Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies documents the discovery of the 4,800 year old skeletal remains of a young woman in her early twenties with an artificial eye. Made of animal fat and tar and decorated with hair-like gold threads to simulate capillaries, the ‘eye’ was inserted into the socket. Such a device would only have been available to the very wealthy.

The Rigveda, compiled between 3,500 and 1,800 B.C. in India, is written in Sanskrit. It tells the tale of Queen Vispla, a warrior queen who had her leg amputated during battle. She had an iron leg created that allowed her to walk and to continue fighting. Can we call her the original Iron Lady? You can bet she kicked some ass!

History records the Ancient Egyptians as utilizing fiber and leather to fashion crude prosthetics as early as 4000 B.C. Bodies were often laid to rest with artificial limbs, legs and arms and even a severed penis replaced with a bronze one. Wouldn’t want the afterlife to be spent without the weenie, now would we? But the afterlife is for the religious arguments. Living with physical losses can be devastating.

In 2000, researchers unearthed an Egyptian mummified woman who wore a prosthetic big toe. Toes might seem like an unimportant body part to lose but walking without toes affects the legs, hips and spine. The big toe is vital to push off the ground and give the foot stability during standing. The discovered apparatus, made of wood and leather, is the earliest found device of its kind, approximately 3000 years old.

Prosthetic toe

Written accounts of other early devices do exist, even if the devices themselves are lost. Around 500 B.C. Greek historian Herodotus recorded a Spartan prisoner who amputated his own foot to escape shackles then later fashioned a wooden foot for himself.

See the hints of a hero peeking through there?

Rather than for aesthetic reasons, the lower class or poorer segments of society often created for themselves a means to remain productive. For example, a stonecutter who lost a hand might fashion a limb that acted as a grinding tool, rather than one that looked life-like. This device would be strapped to his forearm with leather or animal tendons. It prolonged his usefulness and therefore prolonged his life and that of the family he provided for. This type of goal-oriented prosthesis reminds me of The Iron Duke characters.

War was and is ultimately the driving force behind most prosthetic needs. The more efficient the weapon, the worse the injury they cause. Throughout history, armor makers and, in many cases, blacksmiths were utilized to help hide amputations. This allowed the warrior to conceal a perceived weakness from an enemy as well as aided his self-perception as a ‘whole man’. Many times, such a device became a point not of shame but of strength. During the Second Punic War (218 to 201 B.C.), famed General Marcus Sergius had an iron hand fashioned to hold his shield and went on to win many more battles, escaping twice from infamous Hannibal Barca.

From bronze peg-legs to leather and wooden arms, various records prove amputation didn’t mean the end of life. Of course, one had to live through massive blood loss and pending infection first. War propelled the need for prosthetics but afterwards, when peace fell, the desire for BETTER prosthetics prevailed. It was no longer a matter of “fix it fast”, it was a case of “fix it right”. Or as right as technology of the day allowed.

Dear Author has previously shared information on German soldier Gotz von Berlichingen and French army ‘surgeon’ Ambroise Pare. Von Berlichingen’s pair of technologically advanced iron hands, made in 1508, were able to open and close by a means of fashioned ‘joints’. The precision was such that he could grasp a sword, a tankard or a feather quill. The idea of movable prosthetics was born.

Pare, although not a licensed doctor, re-invented the use of the ligature rather than cauterizing for amputations in the 1500s, reducing mortality and infection rates. This method became the standard procedure for war-time treatment and Pare is credited with raising the battlefield butchers to medical professionals.

The first documented amputee of the American Civil War was 18-year-old Confederate James Hanger. His leg, from approximately seven inches below the hip, was removed without anesthetic and on a barn door repurposed as a table by a Union doctor. He was given a straight wooden limb, essentially a peg-leg.

He became a prisoner of war and a cripple on the same day, the first day of his military career. Wouldn’t that make a fabulous dark background for a story?

When he was released to his family, Hanger locked himself in his room. The noise his wooden leg created when walking, as well as the discomforting fit, fueled him. Utilizing his pre-war training in Engineering from Washington College, he designed the first realistic-looking leg prosthetic with two movable joints, both knee and ankle. This double-articulated limb is still called a Hanger Limb. Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics Foundation bears his name today.

After World War I, the medical field was overwhelmed by the severity of injuries to the face. Facial injuries are the most psychologically devastating type of disfigurement. Even when the full functions such as speech, sight and smell remain intact, the deformities cannot be hidden. One cannot hide a face as they can a lower leg. The world often shunned these survivors as monsters.

How many historical romance heroes sport a rakish facial scar? Those would most likely have been able to be reduced after WWI. But plastic and reconstructive surgery was in its infancy then and could only aid the superficially wounded. The gruesome wounds, the most disfiguring, could not be helped medically.

Francis Derwent Wood  was a sculptor who enlisted at age 44 and was assigned as an orderly in a military hospital. Until this point, rubber prosthetics were used with minimal benefit. They smelled, they chafed, they fit poorly, they were hot, etc. For a missing nose, an unpainted tin triangle was often fashioned and tied around the head like a bandana. Wood found this distasteful and disrespectful of the human being. Along with American-born sculptor Anna Coleman Ladd, Wood founded the Masks for Facial Disfigurement Department. The service became commonly called the ‘tin noses shop’.

(I think this would be a fascinating background for a story!)

The masks were made of extremely thin tin or galvanized copper, thinner than a sheet of paper at the time. Plaster casts were hand-carved and tediously molded to the soldier’s pre-injury look and the final metal product painted to match skin tone. Depending on if the mask was full-face or partial, the device was usually held on by spectacles, or eyeglasses, hooking around the ear. Details such as beards, mustaches and eyebrows were fashioned from real hair. These masks gave back life to the most horribly injured soldiers.
masks

(Fair Use photo courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA)

Today’s prosthetics are revolutionary and awe-inspiring. South African Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius wowed the world with his blade-like legs. Many even questioned if his prosthetics were better than normal legs and gave him an unfair advantage over non-handicapped competitors.  Doesn’t that smack of JR Ward’s super-vampire series and Phury with his prosthetic leg kicking Lesser butt?

Oscar Pistorius 2 Daegu 2011

An Afghan girl, featured on Time magazine’s cover, had her nose and ears chopped off by her Taliban husband as punishment for attempting to flee. Her plight caught the attention of the world and, after relocation to the United States and intense therapy, she was given a prosthetic nose. Eventually, doctors hope to surgically recreate a nose and ears using cartilage, tissue and bone from her own body.

These are HUGE steps up from wooden peg-legs and hand-painted tin masks. However, amputation pain still exists, both real and phantom. The mind doesn’t always process that the limb is not there. Strides are being made to harness that mental denial and to use it to manipulate an artificial device more precisely.

At present, nerve-activated sensors can make a mechanical hand open and close, allowing fingers to  move individually and grasp the smallest postage stamp. Suction devices help secure better fitting prosthetics and enable greater mobility. Glass eyes are specifically designed for each patient and can move in accordance with the surviving eye. Photo-optic research is underway to create a pupil that reacts to light, similar to the human eye, to help disguise the implant.

Writers need to embrace the idea of incorporating rapidly changing technology into their stories. It isn’t enough to have a contemporary character use out-dated prosthetics. It would be like having a modern character use a CB radio rather than a cell phone. An anachronism. Also, readers should be able to trust that an author has done his/her research and is portraying a realistic scenario, not one that was common 20-30 years ago or longer. With over 1.7 million prosthetic users in the United States alone, I believe it’s fair to say they read and deserve proper representation.

Prosthetics have changed over time but one thing hasn’t. The human spirit drives us to find the best possible solution to our problems. I don’t see prosthetic use as a ‘crutch’ but as a betterment. It takes perseverance, bravery and an element of stubbornness to continue and thrive when part of your body has been lost. To me, that heroic attitude should be celebrated, not condemned or pitied.

Human beings are more than the sum of their parts. If some parts are detachable or man-made, so what? The soul of the person hasn’t been diminished. If anything, they are made stronger by their ordeal. Who wouldn’t love that type of character even if there is some assembly required?

I’m still writing my story with the character who has a prosthesis. Wish me luck! Have you read a book you loved that had a character with a prosthesis? Share it with me. I love finding new reads.

 

 

Inez Kelley is a multi-published author of various romance genres. You can visit her at her website http://inezkelley.com/  Follow Inez on twitter at @Inez_Kelley or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/inez.kelley

 

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

31 Comments

  1. Laura Vivanco
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 04:27:13

    The BBC showed some photos of prosthetic legs which are also works of art and there’s a short video here in which “The rock musician, actor and performance artist Mat Fraser looks at how prosthetics have been used to improve, adapt and augment human performance.”

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  2. Kelly Hunter
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 05:03:50

    Inez, my firstborn was born with severe bilateral talipes (clubfeet) too. Plasters at 3 days old for 18 months, changed weekly because babies they grow. How do you get those plasters off? Cue the vibrating saw. Don’t put them in a bath and try to soak them off – that never ends well. And then come the operations and the devices (banana boots and bars, remember those?) and rinse and repeat.

    I remember being told off in a playground for letting my then 3yo – complete with 2 full leg plasters – climb up the slippery-dip ladder, slide down and shoot off the other end, fully upright, and head back for more. That person didn’t know that my son had functioned in those things since 3 days old. She didn’t know the backstory. I didn’t smack her. I’m calling that a win.

    Inez, I haven’t tackled a character with a physical disability yet. But when I think of what makes people heroic I think of my firstborn. Hell yes I wish you luck.

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  3. Merrian
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 06:30:43

    One of the gangsters in Boardwalk Empire – Richard Harrow has a severe facial wound from his war service and uses a painted tin mask to conceal his disfigurement

    http://media.nj.com/entertainment_impact_tv/photo/9082681-large.jpg

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  4. Chris
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 06:37:58

    Great post Inez. I’ve always had a fondness for less-than-perfect heroes. Good luck. I can’t wait to read it.

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  5. Jeannie Lin
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 06:46:53

    I found every word of this post fascinating! Excellent history research. Can’t wait to read.

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  6. TrishJ
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 07:21:16

    I read Dancing In The Moonlight by Raeanne Thayne. The heroine was injured in the war and had a prosthetic leg. It was the first book i read about a female amputee. The hero was perfect too. I think it is still a feeebie on amazon.

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  7. Patricia Eimer
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 08:37:26

    This was a really interesting post. I never thought about the history of prosthetics before. I mean besides the discovery of resin false eyes instead of glass (an interesting story if you ever get the chance to research it).

    My son had bilateral club foot and I’m right there with you on how hard it is to deal with people. I don’t know if you had this issue but when my son was an infant and he was in the casting stage of treatment how people used to just stare at us like we were the world’s worst parents. I can remember once a woman telling me off in the grocery store for abusing my son and how the authorities should take him from me if I’d broken that poor baby’s legs. It was definitely an eye opener into how other people think and it made me reexamine a lot of my own ideas because of it.

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  8. Estara
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 09:11:58

    I second the Raeanne Thayne book recommendation. Also kudos to Inez for the article (and her books which I’ve enjoyed ^^) and Kelly and her oldest for their perseverance (oh and for her books, too, which I enjoy as well ^^).

    There’s a hero in a Mary Balogh book, I believe, who was severely wounded in war and who doesn’t get a makeover or anything during the book. He just learns to believe that his heroine can love him for who he is and not just what he looks like. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/71644.Simply_Love – I don’t think he has prosthesis, though.

    But the hero of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Sharing Knife romantic fantasy series lost his hand and has a variety of helpful prostheses to make up for it. He also has PTSD which is totally understandable.

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  9. Isobel Carr
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 09:35:24

    Fantastic post! I’ve been doing a ton of research into paraplegics for the book I’m working on now (secondary hero is in a wheelchair). It’s been very interesting to see the range of injury and function and to figure out just what I can get away with in the 18thC when modern surgery and physical therapy wouldn’t have been available.

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  10. PAL
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 10:52:09

    This is wonderfully written, Inez. Few readers ever know how much research writers do for sometimes the smallest points in their books. One of my characters “told me” he fought in Desert Storm and though he lost no limbs, he reminds me very much of the WWI victims who lost parts of themselves to that war. Research and clinical work finally is being done to help with post-traumatic stress disorder (called “shell shock” after WWI). Analogously, sufferers must learn to use “mental prosthetics” to cope with injuries to their psyches.

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  11. Kate Pearce
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 11:02:07

    Great article about a subject near and dear to my own heart as I have a son with cerebral palsy who has been in and out of AFO’s plaster casts, and surgeries etc, his whole life.

    I remember reading a great book as a child called ‘Warrior Scarlet” by Rosemary Sutcliff about a young boy in the Bronze Age born with a withered arm and how he overcomes that disability to kill his wolf and become a man in his tribe.

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  12. Inez Kelley
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 11:05:07

    @PAL:

    PAL, yes. I did TREMENDOUS research into PTSD including talking with several psychiatrists who deal with this in their practices. I love research and have spent DAYS researching what might turn out to be one line in a final product. But the line is correct.

    Isobel, I DEFINITELY want to know when that book is out!

    Estara & TrishJ, I HAVE read that one and it is a good one, thanks!

    Patricia and Kelly, sadly, I understand. My son had teachers who wouldn’t let him play on playground equipment even after being told he was cleared for ALL activities. (that require yet another visit to the school to advise them all meant ALL and to back off). As therapy, we taught my son to walk UP a slide(to stretch tendons) so yeah, he is a monkey and was even in braces. The comments from adults were so normal to him he devised his own replies to the rude questions. Loved seeing a 6 yr old putting an adult in their place. “What’s wrong with your legs?” –”Nothing, everyone’s different and I was born this way.”// “You poor thing” — “I’m not poor, I have two dollars and I can walk!”

    Merrian, I like the sound of that and will certainly look it up.

    Laura, oooh, thanks! I love that.

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  13. Kay
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 11:30:35

    This was a fascinating article; thank you! I appreciate your being able to share about your own family, too. I hadn’t seen hard evidence before that prosthetics go so far back, nor the variety/creativity/individuality that people have put into such things.

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  14. Lisa Hendrix
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 11:50:13

    Delilah Marvelle’s THE PERFECT SCANDAL features a heroine who is an amputee and a hero who is a cutter. And for those looking for something outside the English/French/Regency box, it’s also set against the backdrop of Poland’s early steps toward independence, in 1828. Terrific book.

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  15. Carolyne
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 11:51:45

    Excellent article. I’ve been trying to coax my former roommate into continuing her WWI-based novel that deals with some of this, but it may be too close to home for her. It’s also touched my family. I would gladly read a romance portraying a hero or heroine who isn’t the ancient Greek ideal of a perfect physical specimen (and not just with a rakish scar) and, since I like ancient world settings, especially a story that gives insight into early prosthetic technology and aesthetics. And, of course, there’s Lord Byron.

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  16. Charlotte Russell
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 11:52:05

    Fascinating article. I never would have guessed that prosthetic use went so far back in history. My great-great grandfather lost a leg in the Civil War and received what I assume was a standard issue Army peg leg. We still have it:) Clearly the poor man didn’t benefit from Hanger’s brilliant work, but I’m so glad others have.

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  17. Bonnie Dee
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 11:56:39

    Excellent and enlightening article, Inez. And I’m looking forward to seeing your finished book some day.

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  18. Kris Bock
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 13:11:34

    Thank you so much for sharing all this fascinating information. The hero of my most recent novel, What We Found, is missing a hand. My mother wondered how people would react to that in a romantic lead, but I haven’t heard any negative opinions yet. Since WWF is first person from the heroine’s point of view, you don’t get a lot of his experiences or thoughts, but I’m glad to be part of a trend of showing heroes of all types.

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  19. Kelly Hunter
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 13:51:34

    Inez and Patricia, I absolutely do recall spending a lot of time ‘splainin my parenting skills to others. Does that constant reframing – challenging people to see beneath the surface situation – play heavily in contemporary stories featuring characters with foreign parts? I haven’t read any to know.

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  20. Inez Kelley
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 14:22:45

    Kelly, I would think it would depend on your set up. If the prosthesis is a main character point in the story, then perhaps there is an element of that. If it is just a facet of your character and not a focus, then maybe not, or maybe just mentioned in passing. I’ve read a few contemporary stories where one plot line dealing with the acceptance of the ‘abnormal’. In those, yes, there is a lot more ‘splaining.

    Currently, the character I am writing has an optical implant and is something his friends/coworkers know and accept. There are some behaviorally changes that I explain(turning his head to fully see someone, wearing goggles rather than safety glasses around sawdust, only one pupil reacts in the light and when he is aroused, etc). I am attempting to treat it as he does, as just part of his life and not a definition of who he is.

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  21. JacquiC
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 14:50:36

    Fascinating post! I am very attracted to novels with people who have varying forms of disability (physical or mental). I myself have a club foot (just one) and remember the comments that people would make about me when I was little and in yet another cast. Or my peers at school (I vividly remember one little boy calling me “pig leg” when I was about five). Anyway, I am now almost 50 and am pretty active (just got my black belt in karate). I hate people’s ignorance about what having a club foot means (and doesn’t mean).

    I love to read about characters who have learned to live with disabilities and how they have adapted and grown as a result. The Lois McMaster Bujold book (Sharing Knife) was great for that. Any other recommendations are more than welcome.

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  22. Isobel Carr
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 15:07:59

    Lord Byron had a club foot. It certainly didn’t stop him from being the swoon-worthy man of his age.

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  23. Estara
    Nov 14, 2012 @ 08:34:49

    @JacquiC: Maybe you would like the ya paranormal (but not romantic) fantasy Silence by Michelle Sagara. The heroine may not be disabled herself, although she suffers from severe grief, but she’s part of a group of friends one of whom is a highly functional autistic. He’s completely integrated, he has strengths that help the group throughout the plot and it’s just beautiful to read such a diverse group of old friends working together (the high school queen bee is part of the group). And you can be sure that the autism part is correct, because Michelle’s oldest son is autistic himself. She did an absolutely incredible series of posts at the end of last year/beginning of this year on her personal LJ, exploring her experiences with her son in his beginning school years.

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  24. Manda Collins
    Nov 14, 2012 @ 09:43:16

    Fascinating post. I’m glad to see so much interest in romances featuring amputees (since I am one). My second book How to Romance a Rake features SPOILER ALERT a female amputee who is able to “pass” as able-bodied in the ton. Since I’ve experienced my own moments of being mistaken for having two legs instead of one, I wanted to explore what would happen if a whole group of people found out they’d mistaken the matter. (In my own case, one woman–a stranger–even reached down and grabbed my prosthetic leg to verify my assertion that yes, indeed, I was missing a limb, after the usual round of “What happened to your leg?” questions.)

    My favorite bit of trivia gleaned from my research of nineteenth century prosthetics was the case of the Marquess of Angelsy’s (aka, Uxbridge’s) leg, which, after being amputated at Waterloo, was taken up by an enterprising Frenchman and used to headline a shrine where visitors might come and view the chair he’d sat in during the amputation and then to visit the “grave” of the leg. Creep-city.

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  25. Ridley
    Nov 14, 2012 @ 10:36:35

    @Manda Collins:

    In my own case, one woman–a stranger–even reached down and grabbed my prosthetic leg to verify my assertion that yes, indeed, I was missing a limb, after the usual round of “What happened to your leg?” questions.

    That’s hilarious. I can so see that happening.

    I’ve added the book you mention to my list. I’m very choosy with how authors portray disability in romance, and I find that disabled heroines are often the most problematic. Knowing that you’re writing from your own lived experience piques my interest.

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  26. Manda Collins
    Nov 14, 2012 @ 11:24:34

    @Ridley:

    Though it is based on my own experience, I chose to give my heroine a below the knee amputation instead of above the knee, since prosthetics for AK are much more complex because of the knee issue. But I did name the heroine’s prosthetist after the company that makes my computerized knee, Otto Bock.

    I know readers tend to be harder on heroines with disabilities than heroes, so I’m prepared for some blow back. In a lot of ways it’s a garden variety Regency Historical (or fantasy historical, since I admit it’s got some mistorical elements). I didn’t want the book to be all about Juliet’s amputee status. And it’s not. And Juliet isn’t a total badass. She’s just a woman living her life.

    ETA: You would be amazed (or not) at the variety of personal space intrusions I’ve dealt with over the years. I think it’s something akin to what pregnant women experience with everyone touching their bellies without their permission. In some ways I prefer not “passing” because then at least it eliminates a bit of awkwardness of being groped.

    I realized a long time ago that the “what happened” questions are usually from people who want to commiserate about the time they hurt their own leg. It beats the doctor who tells me every time I see him that I’m the only person he’s ever known to survive bone cancer.

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  27. hapax
    Nov 14, 2012 @ 13:07:28

    I am surprised to find out that I am the first to mention Megan Whalen Turner’s incredible Queen’s Thief fantasy series, which feature an amputee hero in a quasi-Renaissance era world.

    The first book, THE THIEF is definitely middle-grade (but enjoyable for adults!), but the hero has his hand cut off (as punishment for thieving) in the second title, and much of his remaining character arc covers the repercussions of this loss, both for him personally and for the world as a whole. (Being deliberately vague here, because the plot is so easy to spoil, which ruins half the fun.)

    He has a variety of prostheses in the series (which he wields to great advantage!) and is most DEFINITELY romantic hero!

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  28. Ridley
    Nov 14, 2012 @ 15:42:50

    @Manda Collins:

    You would be amazed (or not) at the variety of personal space intrusions I’ve dealt with over the years.

    I use a wheelchair, so I get my fair share of questions out left field as well. Just yesterday a woman in Panera told me how great it was that I got out and how brave I was. As if eating a sandwich in public is some sort of an accomplishment. At least we didn’t play the “Is it MS?” game, where people throw diseases at me waiting for one to stick. That one’s awesome.

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  29. Cynthia D'Alba (@CynthiaDAlba)
    Nov 16, 2012 @ 10:58:37

    The first University of Arkansas football I attended this year, I was surprise – nope, I’ll confess STUNNED–to see that one of our cheerleaders has a prosthetic leg. My initial thought was that she might have gotten onto the squad out of sympathy but really, that was a dumb thought. The competition to be a U of A cheerleader is FIERCE! No way would anyone be “given” a spot. So I watched her cheer, expecting to see some type of compensation for her “handicap.” First, this gal has no “handicap.” Second, I was enthralled watching her cheer. Flips. Jumps. Handstands. Lifts. She did everything every other cheerleader could do. It’s an incredible story. So inspiring. A real heroine. Take 90 seconds to watch this. http://youtu.be/JT3fam0G9Jk I have so much respect for her parents for making such a difficult decision AND then making her not feel “special”. :)

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  30. Inez Kelley
    Nov 16, 2012 @ 11:11:04

    Cynthia, I have seen that story several places and yes, she is an incredible athlete. Her lifting partner says having her balance while standing on his hands is a little trickier for him but that is the only thing he or anyone does different about/for her he could think of.

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  31. Danielle W
    Nov 25, 2012 @ 02:30:10

    Inez, have you seen all of the media coverage on a U.S. Vet, Taylor Morris? He is a quad amputee. He has a website that details his story and the daily struggles/accomplishments that he and his family have had since May, when he was injured. It is a really great story and they are great people. They even come from my state! :)
    http://www.taylormorris.org/

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